Songkran Pictures at Phra Pradaeng

Songkran is the traditional Thai New Year. The true dates vary every year as they are set by the movement of the stars but are usually between 13th and 16th April. However, the Thai government have now fixed the start of Songkran as 13th April. This usually then lasts for three to five days depending on where you are in the country. The Mon people, in areas like Phra Pradaeng in Samut Prakan and Chonburi, celebrate Songkran a week later than the rest of the county. They had their celebrations this weekend. This afternoon I crossed the river to Phra Pradaeng to watch the Songkran parade. This picture above is of Nang Songkran, the winner of the beauty contest that I went to watch on Friday.

This was my second visit to watch the parade. This time I drove to Wat Protket Chettharam in Phra Pradaeng much earlier. Last time I did manage to arrive before the parade but they had already blocked the road. So I had to walk the remaining 800 metres. As a consequence I got a bit wet. This time I had a better plan of action. I arrived two hours before the parade and just relaxed by the canal in the relative safety of the temple. From here I could see the bridge and the passing pick-up trucks with the water throwers on the back. In the end the parade didn’t arrive for nearly three hours. At 4 p.m. I could hear the marching band faintly on the wind. As there was no longer any traffic on the road above me I decided to go and wait on the bridge. It was nearly another hour before they arrived. The parade started at the city hall which is a fair walk. Luckily I didn’t get wet while I was waiting. A few people did ask me if they could wipe wet powder on my face but I declined their offer. I knew from experience that this would then mark me out as fair game to anyone with a bucket of icy cold water.

It would be fair to say that the Phra Pradaeng Songkran Parade is quite a major event. Much larger than the one I went to watch at the Samut Prakan city hall last week. Actually, two of the floats from that parade were here today including Nang Songkran Samut Prakan. This is her picture above. In total there were about twenty major floats all of which were colourfully decorated. Many of them also had beautiful young Thai ladies on them.

As well as the floats, there were also various marching bands, both traditional and modern. Then there were the parades of people from each of the districts in Phra Pradaeng. Many of them were either carrying bowls of fish or birds in cages. It is a Mon tradition to release birds and fish during Songkran in order to make merit. Over the years, the Thai people have also adopted this tradition as their own.

The climax of the parade takes at Wat Protket Chettharam where I had parked my car. This is basically a photo opportunity as it is such a beautiful backdrop with people wearing traditional Thai costumes. However, they are indeed making merit by releasing the fish in the temple pond and also the birds into the air. In this picture is the governor of Samut Prakan (wearing the ghastly green sarong) and other local officials and representatives of government. In the front row you can see Nang Songkan wearing the red sash in the center together with the runner’s up. I have posted some more pictures at thailandqa.com.

6 responses to “Songkran Pictures at Phra Pradaeng

  1. Why must they all put up their hair like that? Long silky black hair looks great down, not up. I’m sure it is better for heat, but it makes them look like old women.

  2. Sarong is not Thai costumes. It’s Mon’s or Myanmar’s. As you reported it, Phrapradaeng Songkarn is Mon tradition.

    @lost_packet; It’s a tradition hairstyle. It’s a mandate for beauty contestants or participants.

  3. I saw you at Pra Padaeng Richard you looked like a British tourist dressed too stiffly to be a participant in the festival. Thais love Farangs participating you can’t describe their culture from the outside, get involved, a little water never hurt anyone. It wasn’t as if you didn’t know what to expect on the streets.

  4. Hi Paul. I have taken part in about 13 or 14 Songkran celebrations over the years and yes I very well knew what to expect on the streets. This was Day 9 of Songkran and I had gone there specifically that day to take pictures of and document the Mon people who were participating in the parade. I had about 60,000 baht of camera equipment in my bag so please excuse me if I didn’t join in on that occasion. I know from past experience that just a splash can ruin your camera. There is a time and place for everything. When I go out to play Songkran near my house on the other side of the river, I don’t take a camera or my mobile phone.

    Anyway, I saw two or three foreigners that day. Were you the guy with the Thai wife or the motorcycle guy dressed like some kind of alien creature with a camera attached to his hand? I guess from your ip address that you don’t actually live in Thailand as you are now in Western Australia. Out of interest, do you have some connection with Phra Pradaeng or was it picked at random? I don’t often see foreigners over on that side of the river.

  5. Hi Richard. Sorry for the delay replying, and hope you didn’t take offense at my tease. I spend some of the year in Thailand and the rest in Australia, I’m currently working on a photographic book on Thai culture but I have business interests there as well. I was the one with the helmet. Cheers Paul

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